Sunday, December 26, 2010

Club focus -- Arminia Bielefeld

According to some internet japesters, the town of Bielefeld does not exist and it's just a conspracy by the German equivalent of 'The Man' who has perpetuated the lie of the town with a population of 330,000. The reason is that if you ask most Germans the following three questions they will answer no in all three cases:
1 Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
2 Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
3 Do you know anybody who has been to Bielefeld?

In my case I can answer yes to all three questions, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the local club, Arminia Bielefeld. I haven't been to a game there and have only had a couple of pints in the supporters' club and seen trams done out in the club colours, so maybe the club doesn't exist and it all is a figment of my imagination. However, their record would suggest that they are a real club.

Arminia currently play in 2Bundesliga and are one of the biggest yo-yo clubs in Germany and one of their biggest claims to fame seems to be actively bribing their opposition to stay up in 1971.

Arminia were formed in 1905 by 14 of the local bourgeoise and were admitted in to the Westphalia league in the same year. In 1913 they won their first Westphalia Championship after beating BV 04 Dortmund. In 1919 they almost merged with another Bielefeld club, but it never happened.

In 1922 Arminia won the West German Championship for the first time, but it was a bitter-sweet victory, as they were only awarded the trophy because their opponents Kolner BC 01 fielded an illegible player. The following year they were back to reclaim the championship in impressive style when they came from being 3-1 down at half time to beat TuRU Dusseldorf 4-3.

The next pieces of silverware to follow were the Westphalian title in 1924 and the Westphalian cup in 1932. Arminia then decided to join the new Gaulagia Westfalen in 1933. This wasn't a great success, and in 1943 they merged with VfB03 Bielefeld. The merger lasted one year and saw the club finish bottom of the pile.

The next notable period in Arminia's history came in 1966 when they won the West German Cup for the first time beating Alemannia Aachen. In 1970 they got in to the Bundesliga for the first time by beating Tennis Borussia Berlin in the play-offs. They obviously thought that they were going to struggle at this level though, but they managed to stave off relegation, however it later transpired that they had fixed their matches against Shalke, Hertha and VfB Stuttgart and they were relegated to the regional leagues.

Their chance to get back in the Bundesliga big time came in 1977, however they finally finished 2nd behing St.Pauli, but there was still the play-offs. They must have thought their luck was in when they beat 1860 Munich 4-0 at home. They then went to Munich for the 2nd leg full of confidence only to lose 4-0. There was then a third game organised in the neutral city of Frankfurt, which Arminia lost 2-0.

The following year Arminia went up and despite a record win of 11-0 over Arminia Hannover and a 4-0 win over Bayern Munich Arminia were relegated. 5 years later Arminia bounced back again and have basically been bouncing since.

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